Walking through the halls, Chris kept a brisk pace. Head up, he strode confidently and no one approached him. Slowing as he neared his destination, he entered the room and paused at the foot of the bed. Smiling at the dozing man before him, he cleared his throat.
"Chris?" Becoming instantly awake, Vin's voice cracked and rose slightly as he fumbled to shove the stuffed bear back under the covers. Sitting up straight, Vin pushed his hands down in to the mattress as he tried to scoot higher in the bed. "Ahhhh...." With a soft gasp, he winced as the IV tube running to his right hand tugged.
"Careful Vin...looks like they got ya hooked up to some medicine there."
"Wh...what's wrong? Ain't it Friday? What're ya doin' here so early?"
"When we left last night, thought you looked like you could use some company. Besides, one of the perks of being boss is I can drag my work anyplace I want." Moving along the side of the bed, Chris tossed a pile folders on to the windowsill. "That, and Inez made these special for you." Leaning to reach the overbed table, he placed the foil covered plate before Vin. "I know it's kinda early, but I thought you might want to eat them still warm." Lifting the foil from the plate, he smiled as Vin's eyes lit up when he saw the plate of taquitos and enchiladas.
Leaning back against his pillow, Vin took a tentative bite and a soft sigh of contentment escaped his lips.
Removing his jacket, Chris helped himself to a taquito. "Hot damn." Turning a chair around, Chris straddled it. "She sure as hell made it hot enough for ya." Loosening his tie, he swallowed the mouthful of food. "Aren't you afraid you'll burn off those three chest hairs of yours if you keep eating stuff this hot?"
"Nah...this kinda stuff put the three of 'em there," Vin smiled as he reached for the water pitcher.
Noting the slight tremor, Chris scowled and grabbed the pitcher and poured the sharpshooter a cup of water.
"See you got your new pants on, " he smiled as he reclaimed his seat. "Hope they fit better than the pair you had on last night."
"Oh man," Vin shook his head and grimaced. "You know, Buck's called here twice already this morning, wantin' ta know my secret for an 'all over' tan."
"Sorry, Vin, " Chris smiled, "Buck's not likely to forget the full moon rising over Denver any time soon. He didn't wake you up, did he?" Chris scowled.
"Naw...been awake since before the sun was up." Vin sighed and rubbed his eyes as he yawned. "Was just lying here, mindin' m'own business...sleepin'...when these two nurses came barrelin' in, sayin' it was time for m' bath."
Raising his arm, Chris rested his elbow on the top of the chair back and covered his mouth with his hand as he listened.
"Tried ta tell 'em I didn't need no help...but they wouldn't listen. said I had ta save my strength, and they had ta hurry and get it done 'fore they went home."
"Who were they?"
"I don't know...said it so fast, couldn't catch it...just that they were in charge of baths."
"Yeah? 'In charge of baths'? " Chris snorted and fought to suppress a grin.
"It's not funny."
"No...no, it's not." Chris shook his head.
"Then another nurse came in, said the supervisor called and said she didn't care how slow the ICU was, to get their tails back up there."
"Hmmm," Chris nodded and struggled to remain serious. "So, they got ya all washed up then?"
"Washed up...pretty near scrubbed my skin off," Vin muttered hoarsely. "Whole time they were here, Mr. Fartsalot over there kept yanking the curtain, saying he was ready for his bath, but they didn't go giving him one."
+ + + + + + +
Shuffling through the papers, Chris straightened them and slipped them into a folder. Standing to stretch, he turned and stared out the window. Vin had returned from physical therapy so exhausted, he had slept through lunch, rounds by Dr. Seaver, and the housekeeper bumping his bed not once, but three times as he washed the floor. Sensing that he was being watched, Chris turned and smiled when he saw the two wide blue eyes staring at him.
"Did I wake you up?"
"Uhhh...no..." Grimacing, Vin shifted restlessly in the bed.
Studying Vin as he relaxed again, Chris frowned slightly at the faint sheen of sweat on Vin's upper lip.
"You feelin' okay?"
"Yeah," Vin sighed tiredly, " 'm fine."
Taking a deep breath, Chris cleared his throat. "Uh, Vin...that bear...the one I brought yesterday...remember I said it was a long story how I had it?" Sighing, Chris reached down and lifted the bag he'd left on the floor and placed it on the bed beside Vin. "There's more." Looking up, his eyes met Vin's as the ailing man silently stared at him.
"Your friend, Mary Sue, brought these things back from Texas with her, guess her parents were saving them for you. We....we kinda thought it might be best if I gave them to you."
Chris opened the bag and removed the box. Vin swallowed and stared wide-eyed at Chris, his quickened breath the only outward reaction to Chris's words. "We had a chance to talk, and I don't think I gotta tell ya, she's not that easy ta get along with." Chris smiled and cocked his head when Vin finally responded with a slight grin.
Taking a deep breath, he lifted the lid of the box to reveal the contents inside. "Here's your ball glove, and your hat." Furrowing his brows, he pushed his hand in to the Rangers cap to reshape it as he passed it to Vin. Reaching in to the box again, he smiled as he lifted a small, rectangular object and shook it slightly at Vin. "Don't suppose you wanna explain to me how you've had one of these since you were a kid, and I still haven't heard a decent tune from you yet?" Smiling as Vin took the harmonica, he winced when Vin blew in to it and grinned slightly.
"I remember, sometimes, my momma would play her guitar, and I'd blow along with her..."
"Then I think you might want to listen to this." Handing Vin his CD Walkman, Chris waited until he'd placed the earphones over his ears before he pressed the play button. Leaning back in his chair, he smiled as first, Vin's brows unconsciously furrowed in confusion and then rose slightly in amazement as he recognized his mother's voice.
Crossing his arms, and stretching his legs out before him, Chris patiently waited and watched as Vin closed his eyes and quietly listened to the disc. The only indication that he was still awake was an occasional smile and bob of his head as he silently mouthed a familiar verse.
Opening his eyes as the disc ended, Vin sat up straight. "Sorry 'bout that," he shrugged.
"Nothing to be sorry for Vin, she had a beautiful voice."
"But...but how?" Vin's brow's furrowed again as he stared at the CD player.
"JD worked a little of his magic...hope you don't mind." Chris reached in his pocket and pulled out the original cassette and passed it to Vin. "Thought it might be a good idea to keep that safe for ya."
"Oh" Vin nodded absently as he stared at the cassette in his hand and touched the words, 'Songs for Vin' on the label. I...I remember she made this for me. She used ta have ta go ta work at night. Some neighbor lady would watch me, and she made this ta listen to when I went ta bed." Vin let out a long breath and frowned as he looked down at the tape. "You know, I had a cassette player...until some bigger kid in one of the group homes took it away. I listened ta this all the time after she died. Felt like if I could just hear her voice, I still had her...she wasn't really gone. Then, when I couldn't listen to it anymore, it was okay...'cause she was still in here." Looking up at Chris, he shrugged, and flushed slightly. "I know...sounds pretty lame, huh?"
"Uh...no...not at all." Chris shook his head and swallowed the lump in his throat and remembered the answering machine tape with Sarah's greeting on it that he kept tucked in his dresser drawer. "Not at all." Shaking his head again, Chris considered how he'd feel if he never heard the Texan's soft drawl again.
Closing the lid of the box, Chris watched as Vin studied each of the objects. After a few moments, Chris cleared his throat and handed Vin some photographs of Vin with the Seavers.
"They look like good people."
Nodding silently, Vin stared at himself, Jimmy, and Mary Sue as children with her parents.
"Guess I was wrong, she wasn't spawned by the devil after all."
Smiling as Vin looked up, Chris winked and shrugged his shoulders.
Raising his knee, Vin smiled contentedly and relaxed back on the pillow as he slowly studied each forgotten photograph.
Clearing his throat, Chris took a deep breath. "Vin...I uh...couldn't help but notice...there's...there's no pictures of you with the family you were staying with...you were there with them for quite a while, weren't you?"
Shrugging as he dropped the photographs on to his lap, Vin frowned and chewed at his lower lip as he stared at the ceiling.
Dragging his hand through his hair, Chris sighed and frowned as he began to pick at a small tear in the vinyl chair. "Vin, I know. I know that they beat you. I know that you and Jimmy hid it, and kept it to yourselves. What I don't know, is why."
Letting out a long breath, Vin closed his eyes and turned his head away.
" 'cause...'cause that was home...and I was stupid...could barely read...was lucky they even took me in...lotsa people don't want dummies," Vin answered quietly.
Shoulders slumped, Chris dropped his head and stared at the floor and remembered JD's outburst on Vin's behalf several weeks earlier. "Vin, you weren't stupid...if you'd told someone, they'd have helped you."
"Yeah, by sending me someplace else."
"So that's it? You tolerated years of abuse because you liked living there? These people were that special that it made it worth it?" Chris pointed at the picture of the Seavers on Vin's lap.
Turning again to look to look at Chris, Vin shrugged his shoulders and remained silent.
"Then tell me Vin. Why? Why did you take it for so long, and then run?" Chris pushed.
Sitting up straight, Vin did not respond and again began glancing at the photographs.
"Vin..." Placing his hand over Vin's, Chris waited patiently for a response. "Vin...please...tell me...you nearly got yourself killed....what happened that day, that made it different?"
Raising his head slightly, Vin stared at Chris, eyes brimming with tears, and took a deep breath.
"Nothin', " he hoarsely whispered.
"Nothin' ," Vin restated a little more firmly.
Taking another photograph from the box, Chris passed it to Vin. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Chris watched silently as Vin stared at the picture of himself as a toddler, with his mother.
"She was very pretty," Chris stated simply. "I think you favor her a little." Taking another photo from the box, Chris placed it in Vin's hand. "But I can definitely tell you're your father's son." Watching the younger man lightly fingering the photograph of his parents' wedding, Chris stroked his chin thoughtfully.
"My dad was in the service too." Chris smiled as Vin nodded slightly. "I ever tell you about him? He was a great guy...just wish I'd told him that once in a while. He was always there when I needed him...and sometimes even when I didn't know I needed him." Smiling slightly, Chris watched as Vin appeared to ignore him and continued to study the smiling photo of his parents. "I remember one summer," Chris continued, "there was this new ball coach in town. He took a liking to me, I guess. Took a lot of interest in me, said I had potential. He was a great guy. All the kids loved him. He used to have the whole team over his house for pool parties, sleep overs, you name it. Offered to work with me before and after practice, really helped improve my swing. One day, he called, and said to meet at his house for practice...but when I got there, no one else was there..." Pausing, Chris watched Vin intently as he became still. "My father came to get me..." Taking a deep breath, Chris licked his lips and scowled as remembered that long ago day. "He was always there for me Vin...he came for me that day...but what helped most of all, was knowing I could always talk to him."
Letting out a long breath, Vin swallowed and sadly stared at Chris.
"Vin..." Reaching out, Chris rested his hand on Vin's arm.
Shaking his head, Vin sniffed and pulled his arm away. Turning his head away, he wiped at his eyes.
"What happened that day Vin?" Chris asked gently.
Dropping his head, Chris closed his eyes and sighed.
"Vin, I can't help you if you won't talk to me."
"Didn't ask for no help...'m fine..."
"NO YOU'RE NOT. You've spent your whole life alone. I've seen you stand up for and speak up for everyone else Vin, but when it comes to you...you're still that little kid who's afraid if he speaks up, he'll get sent away."
Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out the small box and placed it in front of Vin.
Frowning, Vin finally opened the box and stared at its contents.
"You were probably too young to even understand what that was, last time you saw it. According to the papers, and your birth certificate, your father died earning that, the day you were born."
Shoulders slumped, Vin closed his eyes and sighed loudly.
"Vin...I don't know how, or why...but the system screwed up with you, all the way around. You have spent your whole life on the outside, settling, and making do with whatever you had, just so you could feel like you belonged someplace. But it hasn't worked. Sometimes life sucks. It sucks that you lost both your parents and were left alone. But I'm sorry, as long as you don't stand up for yourself once in a while, you'll never really belong anywhere."
Blowing out a long breath, Chris stood and put his hand on his hips.
"Damn it, Vin. I came here today, and brought you these things because I want to help you. For the love of God, will you please tell me what happened that day that made you run, and has kept you away all these years?"
"Didn't ask ya ta bring me all this old crap, or ta go nosing through any of it."
"No...you didn't. But you cared about them...and they care about you. Something happened that day that took that place away from you, and has kept you from going back there."
"Told ya...nothin' happened."
"Alright...whatever," Chris shrugged. "But, what if one of these days, you decide you've taken all you can here, and decide to run? None of us are perfect Tanner...you don't have to play the martyr. Must be kinda wearing on ya, having to be Saint Vin all the time."
Lowering his head, Vin's nostrils flared as Chris silently hoped the younger man would allow his anger to erupt.
After a few minutes of silence, Chris rested his hand on Vin's back. "Vin...look...if you can't or won't talk about it...just promise me one thing."
Glancing sideways, Vin stared silently at Chris.
"Promise me you won't run. If it's me you can't talk to...go to Buck, or Josiah...hell, any of the guys would be there for you. I can't change whatever shit's happened in your past...but you landed here, on both feet. This is your home now. I really think your parents would be proud of the man you've become...I know I would be if it were Adam. You've done the Tanner name good."
Eyes brimming with tears that threatened to spill over, Vin looked up at Chris and nodded.
Glancing down at his watch, Chris let out a loud breath. "Damn." Standing again, he reached for his jacket. "Look Vin...I hate to do this...I'm sorry...I gotta run to a quick meeting with Travis...but I'll be back. Anything you need? Want me to pick you up something to eat?"
"No." Staring at the photograph of himself with the Seaver family, Vin shook his head and frowned.
Starting to leave, Chris turned back to Vin. "Okay, I'll be back in about an hour, hour and a half, tops."
"Chris?" Vin looked up as Chris turned again to face him.
"You still play baseball?" Vin asked simply.
Letting out a long breath, Chris smiled slightly. "Yeah Vin, I still love it, still love to play it too...the bastard would've won if I quit."
Nodding, Vin looked down again at the photograph and frowned.
"You ever been to Texas?"
"Just to pass through...wouldn't mind visiting it sometime."
Waiting a few moments for Vin to continue, Chris turned again to leave.
Stopping, Chris turned his head again to look at Vin.
"Any time Vin. Any time."
January 5, 4:30 pm
Hesitating at the doorway, Chris sighed. Standing at the window, Vin stood motionless, silhouetted in the dim light of the late afternoon. It had started snowing, and a light wind blew the flakes against the window. Squaring his shoulders, Chris took a deep breath and walked to Vin's side.
Turning his head slightly, a melancholy frown flitted across the younger man's features as Vin silently stared at Chris while keeping his white knuckled grip on the windowsill.
Turning his attention again to the window, Vin let go of the sill and touched the glass as a snowflake hit the glass and traced a melting path downward.
"Mrs. Seaver used ta make tuna sandwiches for lunch all the time. Tuna sandwiches and chocolate milk...all the time...coulda ate 'em every day..."
"Really? Didn't even know you like tuna...don't think I've ever seen you eat any." Chris's brow furrowed as he studied Vin.
Sighing softly, Vin shook his head slightly and frowned at the window. "Naw...don't like tuna no more..."
Taking a deep breath, Chris dragged a frustrated hand through his hair and stared at the young Texan. He briefly considered asking Vin what he was rambling about, but remembering that often what Vin didn't say held the true meaning of his words, he remained silent.
"You know...Mr. and Mrs. Leary...they weren't all that bad..."
Not all that bad? Someone in that house beat the shit outta you on a regular basis...something made you run in to the street...and they weren't all that bad??
Frowning as he watched Vin staring out the window, Chris waited for the younger man to continue.
"It was m'own fault...if I had just behaved, Mr. Leary wouldn'ta had ta spank me...said it was for m'own good...shoulda studied harder too....then he wouldn'ta had ta knock some sense inta me..."
"Hey, Ju..." Scowling, Buck stopped as he was silently shushed by Vin's elderly roommate.
Glancing over his shoulder, Chris made eye contact with Buck and quietly shook his head. Placing the tray of coffee cups on the overbed table at the foot of the bed, Buck thrust his hands in his pockets and leaned against the wall.
"You ever watch the Cosby show?"
"You know...Cliff Huxtable. When I was in the hospital...after I got hit by the truck...I...I used ta watch that...and...and wish that Cliff Huxtable could be my dad."
"You wanted Bill Cosby to be your father?"
"Yeah...no...I dunno," Vin shrugged. "You know Theo was dyslexic? And it was okay...never saw Cliff hittin' him for grades..."
"Vin....is that what it was...because of your grades?" Chris cocked his head and attempted to make eye contact with Vin.
"He had to..." Vin stared blankly at the Denver skyline.
"Vin...you're an adult now...you have to know that isn't true..."
"I was too dumb...spankin' was all I understood..."
"Vin...it was more than just simple spanking...wasn't it?"
Vin frowned and shook his head as he continued to stare out the window. "Was m'own fault...kept misbehavin' and not tryin' hard enough in school..." Scowling, he pointed his index finger and cleared his throat. "He used ta say, 'Boy...someday you'll thank me for teaching you to be disciplined...you'll get no where by whining...now don't you cry, or you'll only make it worse for yourself..."
Christ, how many times have I heard him say he was fine, when he obviously wasn't?
Jaw tensing, Chris took a deep breath and placed his hand on Vin's shoulder.
"Damn," Buck muttered softly and stared down at his own feet.
Turning, Vin glanced at Chris before slowly shuffling to the bed and sitting on the edge. Taking a deep breath, he licked his lips before continuing.
"Sometimes, at night, I'd hear them arguin'...and I'd hide in my room and pray they'd forget I was there. They never had any kids of their own. Mrs. Leary used ta say she always wanted a big family like her mother had. She'd start havin' a drink while she was cookin' supper, and when he got home, he'd join her...they'd be all happy, but before long, they'd start picking at each other...she'd always get around to it was all his fault they didn't have any kids..."
A tense silence filled the room as Chris sat at Vin's side and patiently waited for him to continue, not knowing where the conversation was leading.
Vin sighed and dragged his hand through his hair. Crossing his leg, he began to pull at a thread on the hem of his pants. Letting out a short snort, he grinned slightly and shook his head. "Ya know...I used ta pretend I really belonged ta the Seaver's, but they loaned me ta the Leary's so they wouldn't be alone...kept waiting for them ta tell me ta come on home where I belonged...I know," Vin shrugged, "pretty stupid...like that was ever gonna happen..."
Taking a deep breath, Chris remained silent and crossed his arms.
"That day...the last day I was there...was m'own fault..." Vin swallowed hard and squared his shoulders. "I...I shouldn'ta been late for lunch...I knew how much it bothered them when I was late. Me and Jimmy'd been fishin' ..." Nodding, Vin smiled slightly at the distant memory. "Hoped I could eat at the Seaver's, but Mrs. Seaver...she said...she said ta git on home...Mrs. Leary'd already called twice lookin' for me. When I got there, she'd saved my lunch for me, and Mr. Leary didn't like that...said I should go without when I was late, and so they started fightin' again..."
Swallowing hard, Vin again squared his shoulders and took a deep, shuddering breath. "No matter how hard I try ta forget...that day is always right there..." he whispered hoarsely.
Frowning, Chris placed his hand on the back of Vin's neck and squeezed.
"She'd made tuna sandwiches...cut in triangles..." Eyebrows raised slightly, Vin cocked his head and grinned at Chris. "Ya do know a sandwich is better cut that way..."
Letting out a short snort, Chris shook his head and rolled his eyes, remembering the week of the great triangle versus rectangle debate Vin and Buck had engaged in with Nathan and Josiah. "Yes, I think I recall hearing that somewhere."
Sighing, Vin again became serious and stared down at his leg. "I was just sittin' there at the table...tryin' ta eat my sandwich fast as I could...he was hollerin' at her about savin' my lunch...she was yellin' that if they had their own, she wouldn't have ta...but when all ya got is other people's bastards, ya gotta feed 'em....I finished, and was takin' my plate ta the sink when she started sayin' he was no man...she'd seen the way he looked at me when I was sleepin'...said that was prob'ly only reason he wanted me around...I could see he was gettin' real mad, and I started ta leave...she was still hollerin' wanted ta know what kind of man was he....and....then...then...," letting out a shuddering breath, Vin dragged his hand through his hair.
Taking a deep breath, Chris remained silent as he squeezed Vin's shoulder and waited for him to continue.
"Then...then all of a sudden...I...I felt him grab me by my hair...I thought...thought I was gonna get my whippin' for holdin' up lunch...but...but he shoved me at the table..." Vin closed his eyes and took a deep breath and swallowed. All I could see was the extra sandwiches she made...he was hollerin' he'd show her what kinda man he was...he...he was hurtin' me...and I...I tried not ta...but I started cryin'," Vin swallowed again and took a deep breath. "It hurt so bad...I tried crawlin' away...but...but he pulled me back...I shouldn'ta cried...I didn't mean ta...but I hurt so bad....I couldn't help it....I kept cryin' and all I could smell was tuna....she was yellin' stop it...stop it...over and over....I tried ta kick him, but I couldn't...he went ta lap me, but I bit him...and ...and he grabbed my head again...and ....and hit the table....the room was spinnin' , and I just wanted him ta stop it...he was hurtin' me...and then I saw the knife...and I grabbed it...and I wasn't looking....I swung it behind me....I...I didn't know where....then...then he howled and...and he started --' ...'I'm gonna kill you, you little bastard...' He let go a me and I fell off the table and rolled under it...She...she started screamin' 'what did you do?' at me and he kept hollerin' he was gonna kill me...don't think I ever been so scared...he had the knife in his leg..."
Clearing his throat, Vin lowered his head and absently traced a pattern on his leg. After a few minutes, he shifted and looked at Chris.
"I didn't wanna die...not then...not there," he whispered and shook his head as a single, hot tear slid down his cheek.
"Oh, Vin," Chris's voice cracked as he again placed his hand on the back of Vin's neck and lowered his own head so Vin would not see the tears that threatened to spill forth.
"Oh, sweet Jesus." Closing his eyes, Buck swallowed the bile rising in his throat and leaned his head back against the wall.
"I...I got up...my back was hurtin' somethin' fierce...and my legs felt all rubbery...but I had to run...I was 'fraid he meant it this time...I thought...thought maybe Mr. Seaver wouldn't let him kill me if he was home...so I ran...don't think I even hitched my overalls back up...didn't stop at the fence...just jumped it," hesitating, Vin looked down at his open palms. "The fence was rusty...I remember it cut my hands...but...but I had ta keep runnin'...he was still hollerin'...I...I didn't mean ta do it...I...I heard the horn...and just stopped....all I could see, was the front of the truck...."
Stopping, Vin let out a long breath and stared at his hands on his lap.
After a few moments of shocked silence, Chris cleared his throat. "Vin...I'm sorry...I shouldn't have pushed you..."
Shaking his head, Vin sniffed and wiped at his nose.
Standing, Chris walked to the window and placed one hand on his hip as he placed the other up on the window frame. "Vin...I always thought, if I'd just fought back..."
Raising his head, Vin stared silently at Chris as the blond continued to stare out the window.
"I know it's wrong...but I've always wondered, if I'd fought back a little harder...maybe nothing would have happened. But Vin...you fought back...with all you had... and you still got hurt."
"No Vin...no...you got nothing to be sorry for,,,," Turning, Chris returned to Vin's side.
"What you..." Clearing his throat, Vin scowled as he absently scratched at his leg. "What you said ...about...about you...you weren't just sayin' that...ta...ta make me feel better? Were ya? "
Turning his head slightly, Vin looked Chris straight in the eye.
"No Vin," Chris shook his head sadly. "I wish to God I was, but no..."
"I guess things can suck, no matter where ya are..."
"Yeah," Chris nodded, as he considered how similar, and yet different, their experiences were.
"Well go on, lie down." Standing, Chris motioned for Vin to stretch out on the bed.
"You don't have ta stay..."
"I'm staying." Turning a chair around, Chris straddled it, and sat beside Vin's bed.
"Me too." Making his presence known, Buck dragged a chair closer and sat beside Chris.
Yawning, Vin shifted in the bed, attempting to find a comfortable position.
"When I was in the hospital...no one ever came, after what I did...you wanna go...it's okay..."
"Vin," Chris leaned forward slightly, "nothing you ever say, or do, is going to chase me away...you got that?"
Shrugging, Vin sighed and nodded his head.
Quirking his eyebrows, Buck nodded at Chris. "Chris, I don't think ol' Junior here, does get it...allow me..."
Leaning forward, Buck rested his elbows on his knees. "Listen...what Chris is trying to say, we're family...I know..not in a biological way...but in a stronger way...you, me, Chris, JD, Nathan, Josiah...hell, even Ezra...we're a family by choice. And I gotta tell ya, Junior...that's a whole lot stronger than some flimsy ol' strands of DNA. You are one of the finest men I know, and I'm proud to call you my friend...and I hope you feel the same way...nothing that you've ever done or will do, could change that...I'm here now...Chris is here now...the rest of the guys will be here for ya too...we're always here for ya Vin...just like we know you would be for us...that's what a family is....right Chris?"
Swallowing the lump in his throat, Chris nodded and cleared his throat before speaking. "Yeah...what he said," he smiled.
Glancing at Chris, Vin nodded his head slightly.
"Now...just so every one knows...I plan on being the horny old uncle who pinches all the girls' bottoms at weddings...."
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